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April 11, 2013

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Jason Woodfield, IPL

We were really interested to read the recently published mobile banking app research by MyPrivateBanking research (http://www.myprivatebanking.com/Report/benchmarking-of-top50-banks-mobile-apps ), which looked at the app offerings of 50 major banks, finding that while the overall quality of mobile banking apps is getting better, ‘there is still a critical lack of more advanced, user-friendly features and content’.

The research looked at well-known high street names such as Lloyds TSB, Barclays, Santander, RBS, Halifax and HSBC, as well as numerous other major players from around the world. It goes on to highlight some of the apps that impressed: step forward Capital One (US), DBS Bank (Singapore) and Société Générale (France). It also explains why many others fail to score well in its ratings system.

While the research makes interesting reading and does make some valid observations, it doesn’t take into account what is, in our view, the most important success factor of any mobile application: customer satisfaction.

Instead it focuses largely on app features, looking at whether banks’ apps provide multimedia content, corporate information or product information. These kinds of things may excite the app developers and the banks’ top brass, who can pat themselves on the back as they look at the long checklist of all the things their app can do – but they don’t excite the customers. Can you remember the last time you cursed your bank’s app for not containing any videos?

How do we know this? Because we spoke to an awful lot of retail banking customers while we were developing the iOS and Android smartphone apps for Nationwide Building Society (http://www.globalbankingandfinance.com/Banking/Nationwide-Case-Study-%E2%80%93-Mobile-Banking.html ). These, incidentally, aren’t included in the MyPrivateBanking research, presumably because Nationwide isn't technically classed as a bank. We didn’t just cram in all the features we could think of: instead, we spent a long time working with these people to find out what they really want from a mobile banking app. The answer was not lots of features – they wanted a small number of things, encased in a world-class user experience. That’s why Nationwide’s apps don’t have feature-lists the length of your arm. They do the handful of things that customers really want, and they do them really well.

Risky? Well because the Nationwide apps weren’t included in the research, we don’t know how they would have fared on this scale. But what we do know is that Nationwide’s mobile banking app is far and away the highest rated mobile banking app of the major UK current account providers on both the iOS and Android stores (see https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/nationwide-mobile-banking/id542355130?mt=8 and https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=co.uk.Nationwide.Mobilehl=en ). It scores an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars for all versions on iOS, where the Capital One iOS app – rated #1 by MyPrivateBanking – scores 3 out of 5 at the time of writing (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/capital-one-mobile/id407558537?mt=8 ). Features aplenty it may have, but on their own, they don’t necessarily translate into the most important measure of all – customer satisfaction.

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